Czech Education Ministry asks for more funds to integrate Ukrainian refugees

Czech schools will need more than CZK 5 billion by the end of August to integrate refugees from Ukraine, says Education Minister Petr Gazdík. Despite the unexpected outlay, he still wants to keep his promise to maintain teachers’ salaries at 130 percent of the average wage.

According to the Czech Minister of Education, Petr Gazdík, the estimated sum of CZK 5.2 billion is based on the current average cost per pupil. It also draws on the assumption that around 120,000 refugees will enter Czech schools by the end of the school year.

The funds will be needed to provide more teachers and other staff, but also for adaptation courses and Czech language courses. The Education Ministry is now negotiating with the Ministry of Finance about allocating more funds to the education sector.

The Ministry of Education considers a knowledge of Czech essential for further education of Ukrainian children in the Czech schooling system. According to Mr. Gazdík, it is currently working on a series of measures that would help the Ukrainian pupils with learning the language:

Petr Gazdík | Photo: Roman Verner,  Czech Radio

“There are various options that schools have in teaching Czech, from special language courses to the involvement of inclusive education, which has successfully been used with other foreign children.

“So far, Czech schools have been dealing with the situation in a very positive way. They treat pupils very individually. I myself try to go around the schools as often as possible to see what the situation is on the ground.”

Even before the influx of Ukrainian refugees, many kindergartens and schools around the Czech Republic, especially in Prague, had been struggling with a shortage of places.

Ukrainian refugees have therefore been advised to seek schooling outside of the Czech capital and its immediate vicinity, says Mr. Gazdík:

“We advise Ukrainian mothers that if they want their child to go to school, they should choose a region where there are more places in schools and kindergartens.

“In addition, there is also the so-called Lex Ukraine, which allows schools to increase capacities without observing sanitary conditions, such as the number of toilets and so on.

“We are simply in a state of war here, so we have to adapt the situation with regards to the actual place and time. There is no universal solution.”

Despite the unexpected cost of covering the integration of Ukrainian refugees into Czech schools, Mr Gazdík says it is still the government’s priority to maintain teachers’ salaries at 130 percent of the average wage:

“It is one of the major priorities of this government. We are aware of how important education is in terms of the future prosperity of the Czech Republic.

“Today marks the 430th birthday of Jan Amos Comenius, who had to leave his homeland many times due to wars, and it is a pity people are still experiencing the same thing in the 21st century.”

Author: Ruth Fraňková
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